A closed-door White House meeting between President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders concluded Friday with Republicans reaffirming that they will accept some taxes, as the president is calling for, to resolve the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
“We are prepared to put revenue on the table, provided we fix the real problem,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, echoing a stance House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has also articulated.
McConnell was suggesting some spending cuts, particularly in Medicare and Medicaid, should also be included in a deficit reduction agreement for Republicans to sign onto it.
President Obama has not yet committed to such cuts, and many Democrats strongly oppose them.
But the tax comments are most significant. A combination of more than $500 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes will go into effect starting on Jan 1., unless Congress and the White House reach an agreement.
Obama, arguing he now has a mandate from voters after winning reelection during a campaign in which he pledged to raise taxes on the wealthy, has said he will allow taxes to go up for all Americans unless Republicans agree to tax hikes for family income above $250,000 a year.
Boehner and now McConnell, breaking from the traditional ironclad opposition to tax increases by Republicans, are saying they will consider tax hikes on the wealthy. But they have not yet spelled out what specific measures they would favor.
Obama has said he wants to increase the top two tax rates on income to 36 and 39 percent, up from 33 and 35 percent under current law. Republicans oppose this idea.